A video stirring anger on Facebook shows police in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, asking a homeless man to leave a McDonald’s after another patron bought him a meal Wednesday morning.
Police also escorted the customer filming the incident, Yossi Gallo, from the restaurant. Gallo can be heard telling the officer that he met the man outside the restaurant and invited him in, according to television station WMBF in Myrtle Beach.
“I waved him down, and I said, ‘Hey, are you hungry?’ and he said, ‘Yes.’ So I went in there with him, and as soon as we went inside, the lady at the register says, ‘You’re not getting food.’ She tells him he’s not getting food,” Gallo told the station.
The officer was responding to a call made by a McDonald’s employee requesting a trespass warning for a panhandler in the restaurant parking lot, according to the Myrtle Beach Police Department.
In the video, Gallo can be heard saying loudly, “You guys suck. I’ll never be back here,” as the officer tells the man he has to leave, his food only partially eaten.
“Calm your voice,” the manager says to Gallo. “That’s what I’m asking you to do.”
Gallo replies, “This is how I talk, I talk loud. If the officer has a problem with that, the officer’s going to arrest me.”
The manager then tells Gallo, “Sir, you’re being disorderly.”
Both Gallo and the other man eventually complied with the officer’s order and left the McDonald’s.
As of Friday morning, the video had been viewed over 62 million times and thousands had commented, many furious about that the officer’s handling of the situation.
Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune praised the officer, however, saying in a video posted to the city’s Facebook page that, “what you will not see on that video is the whole story.”
“(The officer) handled herself in the most professional manner and treated this gentleman with dignity and respect,” Bethune told WMBF, adding that the man was known to the restaurant’s employees and had caused problems in the past.
“I believe in our Police Department,” Bethune said. “I know how close they work with our homeless community as well as the four shelters located within our city limits.”
Gallo, for his part, said he didn’t have an issue with the officer.
“I think that’s completely wrong,” he said. “Completely wrong. I do believe that she was doing her job. I do believe that she was doing her job. She did nothing wrong. I don’t have any anger towards her in any way.”
Myrtle Beach police released the following statement about the incident:
The police department is aware of a video involving a Myrtle Beach Police Officer that is circulating on Facebook. The video was recorded this morning at a McDonald’s restaurant that is located in the City of Myrtle Beach.
Officers were dispatched to the location after receiving a call, from an employee of the business, that a male was in the parking lot asking people for money. Upon arriving at the restaurant, an employee approached the officer and indicated the male wasinside the establishment. The employee requested the officer issue a trespassing warning and asked that the person leave the premises. The officer advised the male of the request made by the business and issued the warning. A bystander, who was videotaping the incident was also trespassed from the location, at the request of the manager, for what management deemed as disorderly behavior.
Both individuals complied with the request of the business and left the premises.